As solos ramp up their billable hours, a one-laptop solution can still work. However, busier solos have additional needs. Time becomes precious when solo firms bill more than 1,000 hours a year. Active solo attorneys have to take advantage of technology to increase efficiency and optimize their time.
Step One: Save Time with Document Generation
A lot of time can be lost in repetitive document generation. If attorneys take advantage of technology, that time can be put to better use.
Anymore, most attorneys aren’t writing each new contract (or other frequently used document) from scratch. Many lawyers attempt to save document creation time by using templates within Microsoft Word, as well as taking advantage of Word features, such as Quick Parts, which allows users to store and insert commonly used text blocks. That can work up to a point.
Document generation application options, such as market leaders HotDocs and ProDoc, are a more robust solution. HotDocs allows attorneys to automate documents they use repeatedly, regardless of complexity. By inserting what they call “business logic” into templates, users can customize documents in a wide variety of ways. ProDoc is a document assembly program that offers document generation packs for specific practice areas, such as family law and administrative law. It provides national systems, as well as those specific to California, Florida, and Texas.
Joe Kelly, CEO for Legal Workspace, says that the use of automated document generators is especially prevalent in real estate and personal injury practices. “In some cases, it’s possible for nearly all documents to be totally automated,” he says. That’s a lot of saved time.
Step Two: Save Time by Tracking Time
Busy attorneys need to make sure they have a process in place to accurately capture time and bill clients promptly. Lawyers that have a lighter work load might be able to log time in Excel or on a legal pad, but capturing time more effectively becomes a priority for any solo ramping up its billable hours. That’s where timekeeping software comes in.
Tabs3 and Sage Timeslips are good options for accurate, efficient timekeeping. Tabs3 integrates with QuickBooks and PracticeMaster, a practice management software that is included as a bonus with its license, and it tracks time and accounts receivables. Timeslips integrates with a number of different software options, such as QuickBooks, Outlook, Excel, and Amicus Attorney, and it allows users to track time and accounts receivables, as well as syncing to a user’s calendar.
Step Three: Save Time by Protecting Data
You’ll be able to run whatever document-generation application or time-tracking software you choose on your laptop, thereby upping your practice’s efficiency. But another time-waster for busy attorneys is back-up—something that needs to be done regularly.
Kelly says that a laptop’s two greatest enemies are “gravity and Diet Coke.” His joke emphasizes that anything can happen to a laptop, and if an attorney’s whole practice is primarily run on one device, he/she needs to have back-up in place just in case something happens.
That’s where a solution like Legal Workspace helps out busy solo attorneys. Not only does Legal Workspace automatically back up data on a daily basis, but it keeps that data secure. It also offers hosting for the top legal applications, including those time-saving document generation and time and billing application options mentioned above. Legal Workspace can accommodate a practice’s changing needs as it grows.
Busy solo attorneys need to optimize their time. Taking advantage of technology will streamline administrative work and increase accuracy and protection, creating the time they need for the more rewarding aspects of the practice of law.